The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns laid an egg versus Akron Saturday night. Pure and simple, Akron came out and did everything they wanted to in this game and dominated from start to finish. A combination of an odd game plan by the coaching staff, undisciplined play by the players, and a little bad luck sealed their fate. Let's take a look at five things we learned about Louisiana in this game.
The Rush Defense Was A Letdown: New defensive coaches in the offseason were expected to come in and fix a pass defense that struggled last fall. Run defense was not an issue last season at all. Well, now run defense is a huge issue as Akron gouged the Ragin’ Cajuns for 220 yards on the ground at 5.2 yards per carry. Arkon quarterback Thomas Woodson was able to gain 11.6 yards per carry on the night. Teams have been able to run the ball at will in all three games on the year. Not yet time to push the panic button, but we are getting closer to panic.
Penalties Were Out Of Control Again: Louisiana committed 11 penalties for 126 yards. At one point, the defense committed a pass interference penalty, followed by after the play unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Those two penalties move the ball from the Akron 48-yard line to the Louisiana 26-yard line. The very next play was another pass interference penalty that moved the ball to the 11-yard line. Akron made the game 14-0 three plays later. That is completely unacceptable.
The Passing Game Took A Large Step Backward: I have been praising the Ragin’ Cajuns for an ability to become more balanced with a solid passing game. That was not the case versus Akron. Combined, Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon combined for 173 yards on 19-37 passing with two interceptions. This has to improve if Louisiana is going to have a chance at a Sun Belt title.
Turnovers Are Still A Problem: Both quarterbacks threw an interception, a punt was fumbled, and the offense lost another fumble in this game. The first fumble, on a punt return, was at midfield and killed any chance for Louisiana to put up points in the final moments of the first half that would have pulled them closer than 14-7. The first interception saw Akron take advantage with an 82 yard drive that extended the Zips lead to 21-7. The final fumble resulted in Akron having a short field to score the final touchdown in a 35-7 game.
This Loss Doesn't Hurt All That Much: Other than slow down momentum for the season and give the team more questions than answers, this game should not affect the rest of the season. It was not a conference game, so the Ragin’ Cajuns are still undefeated in Sun Belt play. The biggest worry is that this was a pride game that the Ragin' Cajuns lost. They let a fellow Group of Five team come in and whip them for four quarters. In the end, Louisiana needs to learn from this blowout loss and fix the issues that are plaguing the team before Sun Belt play.